Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lok Sabha passes bill to extend Metro to NCR

The Lok Sabha Thursday passed a bill to help extend the Delhi Metro rail service to the national capital region (NCR), including the satellite towns of Noida and Gurgaon.

Moving the Metro Railways (Amendment) Bill that was unanimously passed, Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said it was necessary that legal cover be accorded to constructing, maintaining and operating the rail services in Noida and Gurgaon, work for which is at an advanced stage.

"It is also important in view of the Commonwealth Games in October 2010, while the Metro service in Noida is scheduled to be commissioned by Aug 30, 2009," he said.

The bill seeks to amend the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978, and the Delhi Metro Railway (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002. The legislation is being amended to extend the legal purview of the Metro service to other states with Noida and Gurgaon falling in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana respectively.

The earlier law permitted the operation of the rail only within Delhi and not the NCR. There is a huge volume of traffic commuting between Delhi and its satellite towns everyday.

An estimated 800,000 people commute by the Delhi Metro daily.

Thanking the opposition for allowing the bill to be passed unanimously, Reddy said: "This bill is intended to usher in a Metro revolution."

Similarly, the legislation would also help provide legal cover for Metro services in Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Kochi and Mumbai that are under various stages of consideration.

To many members who demanded that the Metro rail be introduced in other states also, Reddy said: "The initiative should come from the states and the government is willing to organise 50 percent of the equity."

He said some states had also adopted public-private partnership model and cited the instances of Mumbai and Hyderabad.

Speaking during the discussion on the bill, some members expressed concern over recent accidents at Metro construction sites, one of which claimed six lives in Delhi.

Reddy said the government was looking into it, but "we are not doing very badly" on construction sites. "We are way ahead than Singapore and just a little behind London," he said.

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